- The Antonov An-225 is the world’s largest cargo plane, armed with six engines and a massive cargo hold.
- After a two-year stay in maintenance, the Ukrainian-built aircraft is now sky-bound once again and its first flight was a COVID-19 mission between China and Europe.
- The Soviet Union first commissioned the aircraft’s production in the 1980s with the purpose of carrying its version of the space shuttle but the plane now flies cargo around the world.
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The world’s largest cargo plane has finally emerged from a long two-year stint in maintenance and has begun taking to the skies again. Its very first mission: bringing medical supplies from China to Europe to help protect against COVID-19.
Equipped with six engines and 16 pairs of landing gear wheels, the Antonov An-225 Mriya is the undisputed largest cargo aircraft in the world. The Ukrainian behemoth is a relic of the Cold War and was built when the now-independent European country was under the purview of the Soviet Union as a satellite state.
Only one AN-225 was built by Antonov, a state-owned aircraft manufacturer known for its wide-body cargo jets, making it one of the rarer aircraft still flying. Typically reserved for oversized cargo including military tanks, trains, and even smaller aircraft fuselages, the plane can hold around 550,000 pounds of freight in its hold.
After emerging from its stay in the repair shop, the An-225 Mriya, or “dream” in Ukrainian, flew straight from Kyiv, Ukraine to Tianjin, China to pick up medical supplies for a cargo charter to Poland. Landing in the capital of Warsaw on Tuesday morning, the bird had delivered 100 metric tons of supplies.
Take a closer inside the Antonov An-225 Mriya.